Illinois, State Representative (1971-2004)
Chicago, 41st Ward Committeeman (1992-2008)
Ralph C. Capparelli was defeated in a four-way race for the Democratic Committeeman’s seat by Edison Park Chamber of Commerce President Mary O’Connor. Capparelli was one of the longest-serving Committeeman in the city, and was a state Representative from 1971 until 2004. Capparelli had a long-time friendship and partnership with state Representative Roger McAuliffe, who died in a boating accident in 1996 and was succeeded by his son Michael McAuliffe. Michael subsequently defeated Capparelli in 2004.
Capparelli had long-standing ties to late Rosemont founder and Mayor Donald Stephens, a GOP-powerhouse on the city’s Northwest Side and the Northwest suburbs. Capparelli was a key actor in Rosemont’s bid for a land-based casino next to the airport; the subsequent investigation into the Village’s ties to the investors in the project brought unwanted attention to Capparelli, who was tied to several of the Emerald Casino investors. The casino license was eventually denied. Capparelli was also listed as the alleged “sponsor” of 10 of the individuals found on the infamous clout list that helped lead to the indictment and conviction of “patronage chief” Robert Sorich.
Employment and Electoral History
Capparelli was first elected to the state House of Representative in 1971, and would become its longest serving member in 1995, when he was given the honorary title of “Dean of the House.” Capparelli eventually came to formally control the 41st Ward Committeeman’s seat as well, although not until after the defeat of Roman Pucinski, the ward’s long-time Democratic alderman, by Republican Brian Doherty. Democratic activists, such as Frank Coconate, have criticized Capparelli for being too cozy with the ward’s GOP organization, in particular due to his friendship with late GOP Committeeman Roger McAuliffe.
Capparelli’s state House district was consolidated with that of Michael McAuliffe, forcing him into a rare incumbent versus incumbent election, which he lost in 2004. In 2008, he was defeated in the Committeeman’s race by Mary O’Connor, and attributed his loss to the presence on the ballot of activist and critic Frank Coconate. Both Coconate and Capparelli insinuated that O’Connor was placed on the ballot by the GOP organization in order to take control of the Ward’s party.
Capparelli is former school teacher and served in U.S. Navy.
- Northern Illinois University, B.S., Education
Important Political Events
- 1971, Elected State Representative
- 1992, Elected 41st Ward Democratic Committeeman
- 2004, Defeated by Michael McAuliffe in redistricted state House race
- 2008, Defeated by Mary O’Connor in Democratic Committeeman’s race